What is Clinical Depression?


Page Overview

According to the Bible, we live in a fallen world. Whether it’s our knowingly sinful free will decisions or wrong choices made from our ignorance, both lead to trials and tribulations, pain and suffering, for both us and others. Add in the merry-go-round of life spinning faster and faster, adding more pressure, stress, chaos, and confusion and many people are often pushed to the breaking point. Not surprisingly, according to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-29 year-olds.

Many people have heard the broad non-medical term, Clinical Depression, used when Depression or “negative feelings” disrupt our functioning for a significant chunk of time, and in a characteristic way. Major Depression is the most studied and clearly described type of Clinical Depression and most other depressions are just a variant of it. Let me describe and define these clinical depressions.

How Depression is Diagnosed

Currently, no medical test exists to diagnose depression – although we are getting closer –  but instead, Major Depression is diagnosed when the criteria listed in A, B, and C exist at the same time:

  1. Having 5 of the following 9 symptoms nearly every day for at least 2 consecutive weeks with one of the symptoms being #1 or #2.
  2. Depressed mood, sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness most of the day, indicated by your own or other’s subjective report.
  3. Apathy or markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day.
  4. Significant weight gain or loss.
  5. Inability to sleep or oversleeping.
  6. Physical agitation or slowing.
  7. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  8. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
  9. Diminished thinking, concentration, or decision-making.
  10. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation, a suicide attempt or a specific suicide plan.
  11. Symptoms cause marked distress and/or significant impairment in various areas of daily functioning/responsibility.
  12. Symptoms aren’t from a medical problem, medications, alcohol/drug use, or other psychiatric disorders.

Other Types of Depression

Other types of Depression have the Major Depression criteria with these special characteristics:
  • Post Partum –Some new mothers experience this Major Depression 1-12 months after delivering a baby, and it is linked to changes in hormones, sleep depravation, and the pressure, responsibility, and stress of caring for a newborn.
  • Seasonal Depression – For some, Major Depression has a seasonal rhythm, most often exhibiting symptoms in late fall or winter. The person feels the symptoms of this type of depression when the days seem shorter and sunlight is less available.
  • Bipolar Depression – The individual with this depression will not only have Major Depressive episodes, but also experience extreme sustained characteristic highs which are called Hypomanic or Manic episodes.
  • Depression with psychoses – In more severe Major Depressive episodes, hallucinations and/or delusions accompany the Major Depression, causing the person to see, hear, and feel things that are not really there, or to be extremely paranoid about someone trying to harm them, or to have some other fixed bizarre or unreal thinking or belief interfering with their functioning.
Other Depressions
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – depressed feelings for 2 or more years, more days than not with certain characteristic symptoms slightly different than Major Depression.
  • Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood – when the person struggles adjusting to a life incident and depression impacting their thinking or functioning.
  • Depression due to a Medical Condition, Medication, or Substance – certain medical illnesses, medications, alcohol and almost all drugs injure brain chemistry and lead to depression.

Examples from the Bible of Depression

Various Biblical characters, like Saul, Jonah, David, Elijah, Solomon, and Jeremiah struggled with depression. While these people lived in a time before psychiatrists or diagnosed mental health disorders, we read in the pages of Scripture the very real battle individuals like the ones listed above faced with their emotions.

Read more about these men in the following Scripture passages:

Saul – I Samuel 16:14-23: An evil spirit from the Lord tormented Saul.

Jonah – Jonah 4:1-10: Jonah asked God to take his life because he didn’t want to live anymore.

David – Psalm 38: David talks about sighing and mourning all day long. Also Psalms 42 and 43, which may have been written by David talk about a “downcast soul.”

Jeremiah – Jeremiah 20:7-18: Jeremiah complains that he was ridiculed and mocked. “Cursed be the day I was born!”

Elijah – 1 Kings 19:4: “I have had enough, Lord,” Elijah said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Hope, Peace, and Joy are Real and Available for You

If you are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression, you are certainly not alone. People throughout the ages (including those in Bible times) have struggled with depression, as do billions around the world. Depression is damaging and can be deadly, so please don’t hesitate to get professional help from your doctor, a therapist, or psychiatrist.

The good news is that depression is successfully treated and many are cured on a daily basis. Prescription antidepressant medication will alleviate the symptoms of depression and allow you to concentrate, think, and develop the spiritual and psychological skills which renew and heal you and free you from the grip of depression.

Isaiah 61:1 tells us Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free, to comfort all who mourn, and give an oil of gladness instead of mourning.

You don’t have to stay trapped; make the call today 844-LifeChange (543-3242) to access the healing and peace God gives through Jesus so you can live the abundant life and achieve your God-given potential.


Get help now! Call (844) 543-3242